"Once-in-a-Generation" Storm Will Ruin Your Last-Minute Shopping Plans

Even if stores are open, you might not be able to venture out in severe weather.

Unless you've been able to avoid TV, social media, and conversation in general, you've probably heard the news of ongoing winter weather. While some are rejoicing over a true "White Christmas," others are proceeding with caution as we round out the holiday season. The National Weather Service (NWS) warns that the storm is a "once-in-a-generation type event," per CNN, with every state in the U.S. expected to see temperatures below 20 degrees on Christmas Eve. Holiday travel is top-of-mind for many Americans, but last-minute shoppers are in trouble as well. Read on to find out how the major winter storm and potential blizzard are affecting shopping plans and the retail industry.

READ THIS NEXT: Major Airlines Have Now Canceled Over 2,000 Flights—Here's How You Should Prepare.

A winter storm has hit the U.S., and it's only going to get worse.

car driving in snow
Upstate Photos / Shutterstock

Jack Frost is showing his true colors this holiday season. As of Thursday afternoon, approximately 300 million Americans were under winter weather warnings, Axios reported, citing an NWS map.

Inclement weather has already started to affect some parts of the country, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), with temperatures expected to take a nose dive nationwide—even states as far south as Texas. Those in the Plains and the Midwest, in particular, will see heavy snowfall accompanied by strong winds, according to the NOAA, which could eventually turn into a full-blown blizzard.

The NWS Weather Prediction Center has already issued a warning about the "widespread and dangerous arctic blast," which could lead to "extremely hazardous travel conditions." This is particularly concerning for those who have plans to see family over the weekend, as experts warn that the combination of snow and wind could bring travel to a halt.

With that in mind, many Americans are stocking up before they're snowed in—but while retailers already have plans to close for the Christmas holiday, they may be shuttering sooner than some shoppers would like.

Shoppers were grabbing what they could on Wednesday.

man looking at empty shelves
Alex Bascuas / Shutterstock

Stores generally extend hours in the days leading up to Christmas, but winter weather could mean that's no longer a possibility. News outlets across the nation, specifically in the Midwest, reported that shoppers were feeling the pressure to check everything off their list—whether groceries or gifts—ahead of the storm.

Those in the Chicago area were forced to wrap up any pending shopping plans yesterday, as the storm is anticipated to hit the Midwest the hardest today. Resident Christine Allen told NBC Chicago that she was stocking up and grabbing necessities before the Christmas holiday on Sunday, when she'll be hosting family. But things were already looking sparse during her trip to a Jewel-Osco supermarket.

"It's a little crazy in there," she said. "There's no grocery carts, the shelves are getting a little empty, you know." The outlet reported that the parking lot for the grocery store was fully packed and that lines abounded at a local Walmart.

Aside from just necessities, other residents were heading to malls to grab gifts before the storm. "Oh just emergency panic shopping," one shopper said of their experience. "You know, the same, always waiting until the very last minute."

RELATED: For more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Officials say your shopping should be done, and certain areas have already issued travel advisories.

hunkering down in blizzard
Svetlana Lukienko / Shutterstock

Dan Kelly, meteorologist and observing program leader for the NWS, warned residents in Western New York that they should have shopping done on Thursday, The Buffalo News reported. In light of treacherous conditions, Kelly added that residents should "plan on hunkering down" over the holiday weekend.

Conditions might prevent stores from staying open, despite efforts to remain prepared. While no mass closures have been announced, Walmart is "working closely with partners at every stage of the supply chain to ensure a seamless flow of merchandise including during inclement weather," Leigh Stidham, director of corporate communications, told The Detroit News on Wednesday. Kroger also confirmed that it was working to help stores in Michigan "restock quickly as customers visit to prepare for the forecasted inclement weather this weekend."

If you live in areas where the weather is predicted to be especially bad, you'll want to double-check advisories to be sure it's safe to venture out. In Iowa, the NWS has already instructed residents to stay inside, as "blizzard conditions combined with dangerous wind chills will create life threatening conditions for anyone that ventures out during the worst of this storm," the Des Moines Register reported.

The Iowa Department of Transportation also said that travel isn't recommended: "If you can stay put, please do that," the department wrote on its Facebook page.

Festive events have been canceled as well.

man walking in snowstorm
Zoran Ras / Shutterstock

In addition to the thousands of flights that have already been disrupted due to weather, the nationwide storm has also put a damper on some holiday festivities. In Central Illinois, several holiday events have been nixed, WCIA reported, and in Ohio, the iconic house from A Christmas Story—which offers public tours and overnight stays—also announced they're closing today at 5 p.m.

As the NOAA predicts that cold conditions will continue through the Christmas weekend, more closures are likely to be announced, so check before you make any plans to attend local events or visit stores.

Filed Under
 •  •  •